Cable TV to run its own services

MI-Connection, Mooresville and Davidson's government-owned cable, Internet and telecommunications system, is moving toward greater self-sufficiency by bringing its workers and more services in-house, MI-Connection chairman John Kasberger said.

Since its inception three years ago, MI-Connection has relied on Bristol Virginia Utilities to manage its system. MI-Connection's Mooresville office employees work for the Virginia company. But a Dec. 1 agreement will make them MI-Connection employees, Kasberger said.

Bristol Virginia Utilities also will become an MI-Connection service vendor under the agreement; it's now the system's operator.

"While we have benefited greatly from BVU's guidance and expertise over the past three years, we feel the need to move toward becoming self-sufficient in our operations," Kasberger said in announcing the new agreement, called a memorandum of understanding.

Under the agreement, several departments and responsibilities, including human resources and finance, will also transition from BVU to MI-Connection. BVU will continue to provide customer service, billing and technical support for MI-Connection.

Kasberger said the transition means a greater number of local jobs "and an even stronger focus on Mooresville, Davidson and Cornelius." The towns of Mooresville and Davidson own the system, which also serves customers in Cornelius.

The transition will come with a reduced fee. MI-Connection's operator agreement with BVU calls for a $1.5million annual payment to BVU as a management fee. The new agreement calls for a management fee of $300,000 a year with BVU as a service vendor.

MI-Connection will put most of the $1.2million savings toward paying its new employees and supporting departments that MI-Connection will acquire, Kasberger said. The transition is expected to be completed in the second half of 2011.

Kasberger said the timing of the transition is right, as MI-Connection has experienced a rate of customer growth almost in double digits in 2010 and a 7percent revenue gain. Over its three years, he said, MI-Connection has made significant improvements to the system it inherited from Adelphia Cable.

Mooresville Mayor Chris Montgomery and Davidson Mayor John Woods praised MI-Connection's move toward greater independence.

"Like its subscriber growth, MI-Connection's willingness to take on more responsibility for its employees and operations is a sign of its growing maturity as a company and a sign of its tremendous potential," Woods said in a statement that announced the new agreement.